Many Americans believe the 2020 election will be the most important of their lives, including the many black men and women running for seats in the US Senate.
Because of the injustices black Americans have faced every day for the past four years, more black Americans are voting in these elections than ever before. Now black Americans are trying to change the system from within.
Here are some of the five black men and 13 black women running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Jaime Harrison (D-S.C.)
If you don't know the man whose opponent Lindsey Graham is literally begging for money on Fox News, it is around this time. Harrison, the son of a teenage single mother, was raised by his grandparents in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Through determination and hard work, he overcame the challenges of poverty with the help of teachers and mentors to attend and graduate from Yale University and Georgetown Law.
Harrison returned to his hometown to teach in the community where he grew up and to set an example for the success of young black children. In 2013 Harrison was elected the first African American chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a position he held until 2017.
Earlier this year, Harrison was an afterthought in the South Carolina Senate race, but after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Harrison saw a surge of unprecedented financial support. Harrison has also received support from a crowd of Democrats, including potential Vice President Kamala Harris, majority whip James Clyburn, and former President Barack Obama.
Mike Espy (D-Miss.)
Espy was an all-star in the Democratic Party before running for a seat in the Mississippi Senate. Epsy is the first black American and the first from the South to be appointed secretary Agriculturewhen he was appointed by former President Clinton in 1993.
Espy was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1953 and attended Howard University and Santa Clara Law School. Espy eventually became assistant secretary of state for Mississippi, where he helped amend the school's funding law to increase income for rural schools. He was also the Mississippi Assistant Attorney General and Director of Consumer Protection.
Espy faces Cindy Hyde-Smith, whom he narrowly lost in a special election in 2018. Espy announced to citizens in 2018 that he would work with anyone who wants to make Mississippi a better place to live and work.
Marquita Bradshaw (D-Tenn.)
Bradshaw, a native of Memphis and a single mother, defeated helicopter pilot James Mackler in Democratic Elementary School, becoming the first African American woman to win a major nomination for a political party in a nationwide race in Tennessee.
Environmental activism has been a part of Bradshaw's life since childhood. According to the Associated Press, Bradshaw's mother, Doris, and father, Kenneth, after discovering that waste disposal was contaminating soil and groundwater in their neighborhood, formed the Defense Depot Memphis Concerned Citizen Committee, a group of teachers, business owners and professionals concerned about emerging health problems do .
Bradshaw's platform increases the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, passes the Green New Deal, expands Medicare, and requires universal background checks for gun purchases. Bradshaw is aiming for another general election victory over Bill Hagerty.
John James (R-Mich.)
James is an Army helicopter pilot who graduated from West Point in 2004 and served eight years, serving on multiple missions as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After his honorable discharge, James returned to his hometown of Detroit to work in his family's supply chain business.
James lost the 2018 Michigan Senate election to incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Two years later, James is running for the same seat in the general election against Democrat Gary Peters.
James' platform includes improving Michigan health and educational opportunities, developing the workforce, and overhauling infrastructure including roads, bridges, dams, and epidemics.